Not long ago, there was a trade-off between shopping stylishly and shopping responsibly. But a new crop of conscious companies is proving that it’s possible to produce sustainable and ethical fashion without sacrificing style. Now they are teaming up with large brands like J. Crew, Anthropologie, Whole Foods and Target to get their products into the mainstream.
Originally published on EcoSalon.
In just a matter of years, e-readers like the Amazon Kindle have fundamentally changed the publishing industry, replacing traditional paper books with digital downloads that can be accessed in a matter of minutes.
For many, the Kindle-versus-“real”-book debate boils down to a sense of nostalgia. For years, I refused to even entertain the idea of purchasing an e-reader, preferring instead the look, feel, and experience of reading a paper book.
But there are environmental implications to each option too. Some claim that e-readers are preferable to books, since they don’t require the plentiful amounts of paper and high costs of transport. However, the environmental cost of mining, energy use, and e-waste in the lifecycle of a Kindle shouldn’t be discounted. Add to that equation Amazon’s notorious secrecy surrounding its manufacturing practices, which makes it difficult to make any real comparisons between the two. Read More
A world in which you face the onslaught of advertising with a better understanding of what drives and motivates you, what attracts and repels you, what gets under your skin. A world in which you are not a slave to the mysterious workings of your subconscious, nor a puppet of the marketers and companies that seek to control it. A world in which before rushing out to buy that new vanilla-scented skin cream or that shampoo with the mysterious X-factor or that pack of Marlboros that your rational mind knows will deposit fat globules into your lungs, you will pause. Because that is a world in which we, the consumers, can escape all the tricks and traps that companies use to seduce us to their products and get us to buy and take back our rational minds. And I hope that by writing Buyology, this is the world I have helped bring about.
Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom. An excellent read about how marketers are using neuroscience to sell us things we don’t need.
I’m a big proponent of big brand-social enterprise collaborations. But they can often be a hard sell to mainstream fashion brands that eye a singular bottom line over a triple one. Social entrepreneur and trend forecaster Chrissie Lam’s solution is to show fashion industry professionals the impact an artisan collaboration can have when a brand commits to a long-term partnership. Through her new consultancy, The Supply Change, Lam has partnered with luxury safari company Extraordinary Journeys to launch Fashion Designers Without Borders: a series of immersive “sourcing safaris” intended to connect the mainstream fashion industry with artisan communities. The first trip took place in Kenya earlier this year; here’s a look at how it went.
Ecotourism is a broad and often misused term. It is regularly used to imply a type of environmental superiority over other forms of travel, involving practices that are friendlier to people and the planet. But travel in itself can be environmentally toxic, particularly with the massive amounts of carbon emitted through air and automobile travel and electricity consumed by tourism-related infrastructure, like hotels and attractions.
That’s why I was curious to take a deeper dive into the elements of an ecotourism destination in Lake Placid, New York — a corner of the Adirondacks that is vying for the title of “America’s greenest destination.”
The sleepy town is best known as a hub for adventure travel. It hosted the Winter Olympics in both 1932 and 1980, and is a year-round training ground for sports from skiing to hockey to horse riding. It’s a beautiful place, surrounded by sparkling lakes and snow-dusted mountaintops. Indeed, it’s Lake Placid’s natural beauty that first inspired efforts to conserve it, said Jennifer Holdereid, owner and marketing director of the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort.
Holdereid has been at the forefront of efforts to “green” both her hotel and the entire region. The Golden Arrow doesn’t scream eco-friendliness at first, lacking the clean, minimalist design that we’ve come to associate with green properties. But its environmental friendliness runs deep, encompassing everything from solar-powered water heaters to recycled carpeting, low-flow toilets, and energy-efficient vacuum cleaners.
While committed to environmentalism, Holdereid admits if the customer wants it, she’ll provide it, which may be why guest rooms come equipped with not-quite-eco-friendly “extras” like Keurig coffee makers. When questioned about the Keurigs, Holdereid readily admitted that the decision to replace previous Maxwell House coffee makers with the pod variety came after a tremendous amount of research, which included conversations with K-cup supplier Green Mountain Coffee on their efforts to produce a more eco-friendly pod.
The Keurig question is just one of many dilemmas that Holdereid faces on a daily basis when running an eco-friendly property. But when thinking about ecotourism, it’s important to not only consider factors like carbon emissions and waste, but also the extent to which a destination’s tourism industry supports the local community. In Lake Placid, I saw countless examples of this idea in action. Furnishings are made from locally-sourced wood. CFL lightbulbs are bought from the local Boy Scouts troop. And Chef David Hunt’s first task as head of Golden Arrow’s Generations restaurant was to take a road trip to meet with local farmers and suppliers. Hunt is particularly passionate about maple syrup, which is purchased from colleagues at the nearby Cornell Sugar Maple Research Station and pops up in everything from salad dressing to salmon to artisanal cocktails.
Other regional highlights include a visit to the WILD Center at Tupper Lake, a LEED-certified science museum geared toward children; a stroll through Lake Placid’s charming Main Street shops; and treks through the region’s 46 peaks. Even those that aren’t environmentally-minded will be struck by the region’s natural beauty — and hopefully leave with a reminder to conserve it.
Special thanks to the Lake Placid Tourism Board, Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, Generations Restaurant, Lake Placid Convention Center, WILD Center at Tupper Lake, Heaven Hill Farm, Cornell Sugar Maple Research Station, and Inphorm Communications for a wonderful and informative stay.
In the new Della X Urban Outfitters capsule collection, traditional African Dutch Wax cloth gets reimagined into ’80s style track shorts, boxy bomber jackets, and hip backpacks.
The collaboration is a long time in the making for Della, a Los Angeles-based social enterprise that works in Ghana. But it’s a natural one. Nomad hipsters get to choose from a colorful array of exotic fabrics in trendy silhouettes. And Della’s artisans get the distribution, recognition, and sales they deserve.
Plus, all the items are under $69.
The Della X UO capsule collection, available for under $69 at urbanoutfitters.com.
“Brands are opening up about their supply chains in order to gain trust from customers who are concerned about their own health, the conditions of workers, and the environmental practices of their suppliers,” said Frank Millero, an industrial designer and visiting Sustainability and Production professor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. “These concerned customers are motivated by different reasons, but the commonality is that they desire more information about the origins and manufacturing processes of the products they buy and use. I think that as the food industry has become more transparent, people are applying that scrutiny to other products as well.”
Read the full story on MainStreet.com.
It’s true that, for many workers, getting a job at a garment or sportswear factory is better than some of the alternatives—that’s why so many depend on them. The fact that people are desperate isn’t an excuse to exploit them … We welcome the fact that millions of people are earning a wage. This alone, however, is not enough to lift them from poverty if employers can hire and fire at will, deny union rights, pay low wages that drive people to work inhumane hours just to survive, avoid paying sick leave, and avoid observing maternity rights.
10 Biggest Excuses For Not Paying a Living Wage (And Why They Suck), by the Clean Clothes Campaign on Ecouterre. A fitting reminder on May Day.
Originally published on EcoSalon.
Ben & Jerry’s has long been a poster child for socially responsible business, with its hippie branding, activist leanings, and emphasis on incorporating “happiness” at every step of the ice cream supply chain.
The company’s story begins in 1978 with an abandoned Burlington, Vermont, gas station and a $5 correspondence course on ice cream making. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield wanted to create a company that would churn out the ice cream flavors they always dreamed off, filled with cookies, candy, fruits, nuts, and other fixings. They sourced their dairy from local farmers and christened their signature blends with quirky names like “Chunky Monkey” and “Phishfood.” Within a few years, Ben & Jerry’s had expanded to locations throughout Vermont, and in 1984, it became a publicly owned company.
But then the fairy tale turns cautionary. Ben & Jerry’s continued to grow through the 1980s and 1990s, but according to Fast Company, “the Ben & Jerry’s alternative management style lacked the fiscal and managerial discipline market analysts and investors demanded.” When British-Dutch conglomerate Unilever stepped up to acquire the company for $326 million in 2001, the board was forced to accept out of obligation to its shareholders.
“We very carefully negotiated an acquisition agreement that was supposed to maintain the values of Ben & Jerry’s,” Greenfield told The New York Times in 2010. “What we are learning is, if you are owned by a corporate that, despite whatever words they might say, does not share those values, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain those values.”